In my two years as sports editor, I have been able to cover some pretty incredible sports events at UB. Sure, it was tough; some day another editor is going to get to enjoy the good times, while I was stuck with the gloom of some very unsuccessful programs, but I would not trade the experience for anything.
So, in my final address to the readership here at UB, I present my top five games for the past two years:
5. Football, Nov. 10, 2001 - UB 26, Army 19
It was tough to decide if this season's road win over Rutgers or last year's road win at Army should make the top five. Ultimately West Point, N.Y., won out. It was a special place, and even longtime Buffalo News Sports Editor Larry Felser had never experienced it before.
The game was better, too. After some shady clock management by the hometown clock operator, Army had one last chance to tie the game with three seconds to go. But when the pass sailed through the back of the endzone, UB had an improbable win, their third of 2001.
4. Men's Basketball, Jan. 15, 2003 - Kent State 69, UB 68
There is just something about UB vs. Kent State; at least, when they play in Buffalo (the games in Kent are not as much fun, trust me). This time it was Kent State's Bryan Bedford who was the hero. Bedford, a man who had not hit a 3-pointer all season, drilled a trey as the final buzzer sounded to give KSU a miracle win.
God, that play is so fresh in my mind. Everyone knew the inbounds pass was going to Antonio Gates. UB doubled Gates as soon as it was thrown. The pass went over Gates, through the hands of UB's Mark Bortz, and right to Bedford.
3. Men's Basketball, Jan. 9, 2002 - UB 66, Kent State 65
Louis Campbell's winning leaner as time expired highlighted the best men's basketball game I have ever seen here at UB. For Kent State, it was their only MAC loss. It was also their last loss until falling in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament to Indiana that season.
It's a shame the game happened over winter break; there were only 1,584 in attendance.
2. Women's Basketball, March 4, 2003 - Kent State 78, UB 72
The feel-good moment of my career came when I was informed that the women's basketball team took a column that I wrote prior to this game and went dorm storming with it to try and drum up student support.
The 13th largest crowd ever for women's basketball came out to Alumni Arena on a weeknight to see Buffalo and Kent State showdown for a possible division title. Miami had to lose to Marshall to help the winner of the UB/KSU game win the title, and they were playing a close game at the same time in Oxford, Ohio.
People cared, they genuinely cared very much, about the outcome of the game, and that's what sticks in my mind to this day. Fans were coming up to us on press row asking for the Miami score. Students here are very apathetic, but for one dramatic night, they supported a UB team playing in a historic game with everything they had.
1. 2002 MAC Football Championship Game - Marshall 49, Toledo 45
I drove a long way and spent a lot of my own money to cover this game, but it was worth it. I spent most of that cold night on the field shooting photos, while my associate Rick Owczarzak enjoyed the comfort of the press box. But on the field I was able to feel the emotion of the game and the players, and the electricity in the crowd that watched it.
As Marshall drove for the winning touchdown, you could feel the momentum, you knew they were going to get it done some way. On the Toledo sideline, you could feel the anxiety, the anger after a controversial call, and ultimately the silent pain of another heartbreaking loss.
Fans stormed the field after the game, and it was my first time in that situation. I pushed and shoved and clawed to get the best photos I could, and I'm not a photographer. Ultimately a shot of the Marshall fans carrying out the goalposts with a couple fans riding on top of them ran in this newspaper.
It's one game, and one experience, I'll never forget.